LAS VEGAS — In the buildup to Conor McGregor’s final struggle with Dustin Poirier in January, McGregor deviated from the brash, trash-talking bravado that had propelled him to the height of stardom within the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
He praised Poirier usually. He requested for a bottle of his opponent’s branded sizzling sauce. He pledged to donate $500,000 to a charity Poirier had began in his residence state of Louisiana.
Then, he was knocked out by Poirier within the second spherical in a defeat that damage his already loosening grip on the game, given a loss in 2018 to Khabib Nurmagomedov and his rising focus exterior the octagon.
Now, as McGregor and Poirier, each 32, put together to finish their trilogy on Saturday evening as the primary occasion of U.F.C. 264 at T-Mobile Arena, McGregor (22-5-0) has returned to his authentic kind.
At a information convention Thursday, the primary time the 2 males noticed one another in particular person since they final clashed, McGregor insulted Poirier’s spouse, acted as if he would throw sizzling sauce on him after which threw a kick towards him as they confronted off.
But except for the entire gestures and antics that appeal to pay-per-view buys and generate story traces, McGregor mentioned he desires to remind the world of the high-caliber combined martial artist he’s. A victory in opposition to Poirier (27-6-0) in beautiful style would try this, he mentioned.
“It’s another feather to the cap,” McGregor mentioned. “I love to come in here, defy the odds, do the unthinkable and put on a show. It was a fluke win, and I’m going to correct it Saturday night.”
McGregor, who entered the U.F.C. in 2013, rapidly rose to the peak of the game by means of his performances contained in the octagon and his persona exterior of it. He boasts a highly effective left hand, which normally shocks an opponent to devastating impact when it connects with the chin. He has paired his ability set with a clear, refined wardrobe and a knack for persistently taunting opponents.
In 2014, he fought Poirier within the 145-pound featherweight division. It was McGregor’s fourth struggle within the U.F.C., and consultants believed that Poirier, then a 10-fight veteran within the firm, was his hardest opponent but. McGregor nonetheless predicted a first-round end and delivered on that forecast with a technical knockout, giving himself the nickname “Mystic Mac.”
From there, McGregor’s recognition soared. Within two years, he captured the featherweight and light-weight belts, changing into the primary athlete in U.F.C. historical past to carry championships in two weight courses concurrently.
In 2017, he participated in a crossover boxing match with Floyd Mayweather, a international spectacle that earned McGregor a assured $30 million. He additionally based Proper No. Twelve, an Irish whisky model, which he bought his stake on this 12 months for a reported $600 million.
But the U.F.C. stripped him of each his belts due to inactivity and he quickly started dealing with authorized hassle.
He pleaded guilty to assault for punching a man in 2019 at a bar in Ireland and took a plea deal for throwing a hand cart at a bus carrying U.F.C. fighters in Brooklyn in 2018. In January, McGregor was sued in Ireland by a lady who claimed he raped her in 2018, an accusation he has denied (Irish police and prosecutors additionally declined to pursue felony prices in opposition to him).
While McGregor dealt together with his authorized points and enterprise ventures, and have become a father to a few kids, Poirier was constructing a respectable résumé.
He moved as much as the 155-pound light-weight division in 2015 after dropping to McGregor and received 10 of his subsequent 13 fights in opposition to high quality competitors, together with victories over Anthony Pettis, Justin Gaethje and Max Holloway. He captured the interim light-weight belt in 2019, however misplaced to Nurmagomedov, who had overwhelmed McGregor a 12 months earlier.
When McGregor and Poirier fought in January in Abu Dhabi, McGregor had been far much less energetic, whereas Poirier was driving a profitable streak.
In the struggle, McGregor landed clear pictures, however Poirier held up nicely, one thing he didn’t do within the first contest. He attacked McGregor’s lead leg incessantly with kicks to the calf, which bruised and reddened as the primary spherical ended.
McGregor’s base may not assist his physique when Poirier landed a punch to his nostril, which despatched him to the bottom subsequent to the fencing within the second spherical. Poirier delivered ending punches.
At their information convention on Thursday, Poirier mentioned the trash speaking affected him in 2014, however McGregor’s aura dwindled in January. He feels the identical forward of U.F.C. 264, he mentioned.
“There’s a very dangerous fighter sitting here, no doubt, but I see a man that I’ve defeated and I know I can defeat again,” Poirier mentioned.
After the earlier struggle, the 2 males traded barbs on social media, and McGregor donated $500,000 to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Acadiana as an alternative of Poirier’s the Good Fight Foundation.
Some questioned why McGregor would even proceed within the U.F.C., given the sum of money he has made in his profession. McGregor, who had predicted that he would turn into a billionaire by age 35, mentioned he does it for legacy.
“I’m not relishing in my past accomplishments,” McGregor mentioned, including: “I don’t care about that.”
Still, McGregor faces stress to carry out nicely on Saturday, even when he doesn’t admit it. A loss could be the his fourth defeat in his final seven fights.
He mentioned he took this coaching camp extra severely, and left his kids at residence in Ireland so he may correctly focus. When a reporter famous that McGregor had received just one struggle since President Barack Obama left workplace in January 2017, he took offense.
“Shut your mouth,” McGregor interjected whereas the reporter tried to complete the query.